This is the story of two children, a boy and a girl who are in middle school, both of whom have found permanent families. Both had suffered profound trauma in their lives and both are now a part of families who love and cherish them. The two families couldn’t be more different: Alex is now one of eight and Shirley is the first and only child. But both are happy and thriving. Lutheran Family Services staff members Liz Nelms and Sharae Henderson tell their stories just in time for Foster Care Awareness Month in May.

SHIRLEY: TWO DECEMBERS TO REMEMBER

Daniel and Kristin Massie are high school sweethearts who went to college together and married. She is an elementary school physical education teacher and he works at Merchant Auto Tires. They suffered the sadness of having their first child die a few months after she was born. With their strong faith and  good hearts, they channeled their grief into the desire to grow their family through adoption.

At the beginning the Massie’s were not in the initial group of families being considered for Shirley, but eventually they and Shirley were brought together in December 2011. As they say, the rest is history; the following December the adoption was finalized. If you ask them, they say that they are honored and blessed to have Shirley, and to look at Shirley, you know that she feels the same. The Massies have been very open about their adoption journey; there are pictures of her all over the Massie’s home. There is no doubt that she has found her forever family.  — Sharae Henderson is a youth and family treatment specialist with Lutheran Family Services.

ALEX:A SENSE OF HUMOR REVEALED!

There aAlex 2012re kids who are challenges and there is Alex. Traumatized with profound abuse and neglect, we were losing hope that we would ever be able to find him a permanent, loving family. He had bounced around in foster care for five years – to foster homes, group homes, residential facilities and hospitals. His behavior was difficult, and it hid the child that we hoped was in there. It was a stuffed penguin that first gave me hope. Alex would rarely talk to adults, but he started using the penguin to “talk” to people.

We had worked with the Sloan family for quite a while. This big, loving family had already adopted four children through Lutheran Family Services and had three biological children of their own. It turned out that they were just what Alex needed. Nicole Sloan is a former special education teacher, whose son Nathan is on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Steve are patient, kind people who helped him deal with his feelings and brought out the best in him. And he in turn just relaxed right into the family. He has a great sense of humor – who knew? He has turned into a great, affectionate kid. – Liz Nelms is a youth and family treatment specialist with Lutheran Family Services.

For more information about adoption, foster to adopt and foster care, visit here or call  1 (800) 359-3834.